Last week we saw how God restrains someone from sinning by His power, His people, or His providence. Today, we will take a look at what is required in overcoming strongholds or addictions from a human perspective. Abimelech took Sarah into his court. She was a beautiful woman but belonged to another. God told him to give her up. What Abimelech goes through in returning Sarah parallels the beginning of freedom from our strongholds.
- There comes a time of discernment... "And God said to him in a dream" (v.6).
No matter what anyone says or does for you, no deliverance comes until God speaks. "Behold, thou are but a dead man" (v.3) is what God said. There came a time when in v.9 Abimelech calls taking Sarah for himself 'a great sin.' Only God reveals that. "There is a way tat seems right to man, but the end thereof is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25).
- There comes a time of decision... "Now therefore, restore the man his wife" (v.7).
When God speaks to you about a stronghold in your life you must make a decision. Will you begin to act on what God has told you to do? The first step is the hardest. "When the will is won, all is won"Thomas Brooks. If there is a person who wants the will to quit, then this trust in God becomes the first step to recovery.
- There comes a time of dependence... "He is a prophet; he shall pray for thee" (v.7).
In the Old Testament times the prophets alone had special privileges before the Lord. "And Samuel said, 'Gather all of Israel and I will pray for you unto the Lord" (I Samuel 7:5). Elisha the prophet told Naaman to dip in the Jordan seven times and Naaman was angry. "I thought, He will surely come out and call upon the name of the Lord" (II Kings 5:11). You have heard it said that Christ has come as prophet, priest and king. That's true. "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things... every soul which shall not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23). This is Christ.
- There comes a time of declaration... "Abimelech told all these things..." (v.8).
There is usually one important key in discovering whether or not freedom is coming. Those around you, those who know you best, hear from you about your stronghold. "The way to bury our sin is to uncover it in confession to others"Richard Sibbes. This kind of openness is absolutely essential in coming to a place of freedom.
- There comes a time of deliverance... "And the men were very afraid" (v.8).
This deliverance will be seen in the coming weeks as Abimelech restores Sarah. But the important thing to remember is that Abimelech and his men had a 'fear of God.' This was not the fear that Paul discovered at Mars Hill on an inscription 'To the Unknown God' and said, "I perceive that you are superstitious" (Gk. deisidaimonia). There was a very real knowledge of God, His holiness, His power, and His majesty. Ultimately, freedom comes when you stop living like a 'practical atheist' and see God.